Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Ask us!

General Chemistry I - CHEM 103

This guide explains where you need to find background information, scholarly literature, the importance of incorporating this information into your paper, and how to cite it.

Secondary Literature

Secondary literature, or secondary sources, summarize and synthesize the primary literature. It is usually broader and less current than primary literature. Secondary literature may also be written in a less formal, more accessible manner for non-experts to understand the findings of primary literature.


Reference Sources

cover of the book Encyclopedia of Chemistry

  • Reference books and websites provide broad, overview information to educate people who are new to a topic. 
  • Specialized encyclopedias may include overviews of common research areas and well-known findings. 
  • Lists of "additional reading" are often included to point researchers to important studies or other secondary sources for more information

Science Magazines, News, and Websites

cover of the magazine Chemistry World

  • Popular sources include science magazines and news websites
  • These are written for the general public with an interest in the topic 
  • Professionals may read these to stay current with new developments and news in the field
  • The style is less formal, more conversational, and usually more visually appealing
  • Journal publishers and professional organizations often publish magazines or websites to get information out quickly and to a wider audience 

Key takeaway

Primary literature and secondary literature will share some things in common. These features are usually ONLY found in primary literature:

  • Original research results
  • Author affiliations
  • Methods description
  • Statistics, graphs, and tables
  • References list or Works Cited